Without access to computers or WiFi, youth in the Umkhumbane community are marginalized from online learning during South Africa's COVID-19 lockdown, in conditions of poverty and overcrowding at home. This project connects 200 at-risk high-schoolers with Umkhumbane Schools Project teaching staff in an interactive, small-group learning space via their cell phones, providing math instruction, personal encouragement, information about the virus and social distancing, and food vouchers as needed.
Though large numbers of youth from the Umkhumbane township and informal settlement area have enrolled in this engaging and effective learning initiative, few can afford the cost of mobile data to stay consistently connected. Some are also facing food insecurity. While learners from well-resourced communities across South Africa continue to study online, becoming better prepared for the national exams that will measure all learners' competence, our learners are falling even further behind.
This microproject will allow us to provide 200 learners with prepaid mobile data to connect with our learning platform on their cell phones, and to replenish the data in coming weeks. Grocery vouchers will be sent to those facing food shortages at home. We know that these young people are eager to participate, but many often go for days without mobile data on their phones, andleaving them unable to join in and and learn. This microproject will keep learners focused, connected, and learning.
With this critical barrier to access solved, 200 Umkhumbane youth could return to their classrooms when schools reopen having continued their studies with a dedicated mentor during the lockdown. This will facilitate the resumption of teaching and help narrow the gap of education inequality made worse by the COVID-19 crisis. By providing academic support, personal guidance, and accurate information about the virus, this project will further learning, keep youth healthy, and possibly save lives.